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Higher fee to pay for expanding Hernando solid waste landfill is discussed

BROOKSVILLE — With the permit finally in hand to expand the county landfill, officials this week will begin to discuss how to pay the $11.8 million bill.

County commissioners on Tuesday will consider raising the annual solid waste assessment by as much as 62 percent.

Utility director Joe Stapf will suggest to commissioners that they increase the annual fee from $63.05 per year to $102 — "high enough to cover the worst-case costs,'' according to a memo to commissioners.

The plan would be to lower that amount once the county has a better idea of the actual costs. Bids to construct the new landfill cell will be opened in June, and the county will then work out the details of the project financing.

The new cell is planned to meet the county's needs for waste disposal for the next 15 years.

Stapf will request that the commission set a public hearing on setting the assessment for 9:30 a.m. June 23.

The solid waste assessment appears annually on property tax bills.

Anticipating thousands of phone calls from taxpayers when they get their tax notices, utilities officials have been talking to officials in emergency management about possibly setting up a temporary calling center to handle the volume for the first week to 10 days to ensure that people can get a response to their questions.

Construction of the new cell isn't the only thing that's going to cost more money. Because the county doesn't have enough time to complete the new cell before the old cell runs out of room, officials are also planning to begin shipping some garbage out of the county this year.

Hauling to another county will cost Hernando an estimated $56.70 per ton for residential garbage. Officials have been talking to haulers and solid waste officials in surrounding counties about various options. During Tuesday's commission meeting, Stapf will ask commissioners to approve an agreement with Pasco County that would allow Hernando to send its trash to Pasco, if that is what is later decided.

Sumter County is also willing to sign an agreement with Hernando, but must first change its solid waste ordinance, according to the memo to commissioners.

In addition, purchasing officials are finalizing bid documents that would allow private landfills to bid on the transport and disposal of garbage.

Stapf will also suggest other changes that will have an impact on the county's two waste disposal convenience centers.

He will ask to purchase a new system for compacting garbage that will cost $154,000 and replace the current system comprised of outdated or soon-to-be outdated compaction trailers.

In addition, as a cost savings, he will suggest that commissioners consider shortening the hours of operation at both the eastside and westside convenience centers. Commissioners will consider whether the centers, which are now open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, operate instead from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those days.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Higher fee to pay for expanding Hernando solid waste landfill is discussed 04/26/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 26, 2009 8:04pm]
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